Recycling Challenges

Mountain Waste & Recycling offers recycling services as a way to reduce our collective impact on resources. We also believe in transparency when it comes to the costs of our services. Mountain communities share a unique set of challenges when it comes to recycling. We are located a great distance from the large materials processing facilities that sort recyclables and prepare them for shipment to mills.

WE ARE FORCED TO PASS ALONG THE DRAMATICALLY INCREASING COSTS OF RECYCLING. Please read below to learn about the factors affecting all of us in western Colorado.

Past:

For many years, haulers were able to empty 100% of their recycling collection trucks at a facility owned by Pitkin County (Aspen). The County Commissioners were faced with a $350,000 annual loss by operating this facility. We certainly understand Pitkin County’s viewpoint in not continuing to accept the majority of recyclables from Garfield County and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley without an appropriate economic model to support this activity.  We thank them for doing so for over 20 years.  Recycling isn’t free, and the effort that goes into it is quite costly in our area.

November, 2014: Commissioners decide to restrict the amount of recyclable materials they accept from haulers and reduce the number of county-sponsored recycling drop off sites. THIS MEANS THAT WE MUST TRANSPORT THE VAST MAJORITY OF RECYCLABLES WHICH WE COLLECT TO WOLCOTT, COLORADO OR DENVER.

Present:

Transportation Cost Increases: 95% of the recyclables that we collect are transported to processing facilities out of the area because there is limited local processing available. 80% of our total recyclable materials collected are transported 60 miles to a processing plant owned by Eagle County. 20% of our total recyclables are transported 180 miles to Denver.

Processing Cost Increases: Pitkin County charges a $26 per ton fee for us to empty our recycling collection trucks at their facility. We are limited by Pitkin County to bringing them 40 tons per year, or about two weeks’ worth of what we collect during the year.
The Denver processors have begun charging haulers a fee to empty their recycling loads at the processing plants. Five years ago they paid us for the materials. Today we pay them approximately $25 per ton to empty our trucks.

Future:

Possible Additional Transportation Cost Increases: we are concerned that the Eagle County government will join Pitkin County in making the decision to close its recycling facility. If this happens we will be forced to transport 100% of our recyclables to Denver at a dramatically increased cost.

Processing Cost Increases: we have no way of determining the “ceiling” on the amounts that the Denver processing facilities will charge us to process the recyclable materials that we collect on your behalf.

Nationally, there’s an ongoing effort to effectively recycle materials using methods that are environmentally friendly and monetarily successful, but in our area we face immediate challenges that cause each of us to evaluate our own participation in the recycling system that exists at present.

We believe in what we do, and the promise of recycling and reducing our overall personal waste. As we navigate the intricacies of the recycling industry and how it affects our business practices, we remain committed to providing our customers with accurate, honest information about these issues.